Earth Hour: A Vote for the Planet (But Not a Very Big One)

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On Saturday, March 28, families, businesses and organizations around the world will be turning out the lights in order to turn on support for the planet. Earth Hour is a campaign, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour, from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm in their timezone, in order to bring awareness to the importance of our energy (and other environmental) choices and of the crisis issue of climate change. This year, turning off the lights is also being considered a “vote” for the earth (not turning them out is being considered a “vote” for global warming). So far the campaign has more than 2,700 cities and towns in 83 countries participating.  The goal is to get 1 billion people to “vote” by switching off their lights for that hour.

On the one hand, I think that it’s really terrific that so many people are participating in a collective action. I know the folks organizing this are completely serious about it being a major tool for positive change, and I applaud their efforts. Hopefully this worldwide event will inspire families, businesses and policy makers to commit to making significant choices that will help curb climate change and protect the planet.

But, really, the action people are taking is turning off a few lights (and using social media to encourage other people to do so). I worry that the message this sends is that all we have to do to help create a sustainable, just world is a few simple actions, like using less electricity or switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. And, while small steps are an important beginning, it’s important that people become aware that it’s going to take significant positive changes, both in our personal lives, and in society’s systems, in order to have a humane world.

Imagine if 1 billion people signed up to turn off the TV,  computer or radio and volunteer in their communities. Or to take an hour and clean up their streets. Or to take an hour and feed some hungry folks. Or, if 1 billion people agreed to stop eating animal products for 1 day. Or to shop locally. Or to write letters to their lawmakers in support of the 350 policy, or in support of an end to slavery, or any other significant topic.

I’ll be participating in Earth Hour, because I want to be supportive. But, I’ll continue to seek significant MOGO choices that can have a larger positive impact on the planet.

~ Marsha

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WebSpotlight: Oil Imports Map

Energy consumption and policy are on many minds, and while President Obama’s recent decision to allow states to determine auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards may eventually help decrease U.S. dependence in “foreign oil,” we still have an insatiable appetite for that fossil fuel.

Knowing about the history and patterns of our oil imports can help us shape our future choices. The Rocky Mountain Institute has created an Oil Imports Map, which shows “how much oil the U.S. has imported, from where, and how much we have spent every month since 1973.”

The map allows us to see from whom we’ve gotten our oil and how much we’ve spent, and it connects our imports to major events such as Hurricane Katrina and the oil crises of the 1970s. It also makes it possible to pay attention to the history of our foreign relationships and how that has affected oil imports.

It’s an interesting and useful tool that can help expand our knowledge and perspective of energy policy and of the impact of our own choices.

~ Marsha

h/t to Worldchanging.